Mediocrity in Design

Mediocrity. Hard to not fall into that level, and even harder to break away from it. but Mediocrity can be used to a designers (really anybody’s) advantage. It really all relates to the individual perspective of the person.

Mediocre is defined as “of moderate quality; not very good.” Then that means that mediocrity is “the state of being or having the quality of being mediocre.”

It’s hard to not be mediocre. Mediocre work happens in every field. Design is what I most reference here because I stick to what i know. Logical, right?  As designers and consultants, we have all seen things that we think are mediocre. Usually we can instantly tell if it is mediocre, but the hard part is as to why it is mediocre. Sometimes we can see it right away.  Other times we can’t pinpoint it, but we know something is off. That’s just what we do. I’ve heard it called “The Designer’s Eye”, “Knowing What you Do”, and even “Being a Dick.” But how does mediocrity happen?

There are many reasons mediocrity can happen. For example:

  • The client doesn’t have any vision of what they want as an end result.
  • The designer doesn’t have enough knowledge to expand on ideas.
  • The designer my not have the experience to have the execution of what they wanted to do.
  • The constant changes in trends and styles.
  • Laziness. Plain and Simple.
  • Trying to make a quick couple dollars

That is only a couple of the reasons. All those points could be avoided easily. Solving those issues is how you break away from mediocrity.

  • Stay upon trends.
  • Don’t be lazy.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Work with clients closely.
  • Be a Mentor.

That will solve a lot of issues. Become a student of your work. Try to push yourself and learn with every new project you have. Just don’t half ass it along the way. There are Millions of great resources out there. From blogs to books to tutorials. Youtube. Other professionals in your field. Endless sources for improvement to go outside your comfort zone. When you leave your comfort zone you start growing. but it’s not an overnight thing, it takes years to achieve anything worth noting. Including creating your own style of work. Many designers I know out running with no humility and never improve because they think they are the best designer ever. You need to have your ego bruised. HAVE TO. It keeps you in check, and makes you take a realistic perspective on things. It happens to all of us at some point. Just like the Needy Client I mentioned before.

Now that my rant about mediocrity is over, I want to let you know that mediocrity is necessarily a bad thing.  If everything is mediocre, you can use that to your advantage. It’s like using the rainy days to make a sunny day stand out as something special. Complexity does not set work apart. it is the quality of the work. The details make all the difference. Those detail are what can take a good design and make it great.  As long as we continue to push ourselves to get better and increase our knowledge of what we do and how we do it, we will continue to overcome the burden of being mediocre.


Here are some great reads about mediocrity in design:

Mediocrity vs. Excellence: What Separates Good From Great?
The Role of Mediocrity in Graphic Design
Avoiding the pitfalls of mediocrity


Are you hungry? No. Not burgers and fries hungry. Drive. What are you willing to do to achieve that coveted spot you want in whatever you do? How far are you willing to go and push against the restrains? That kind of hunger. That is the defining factor in how much you can overcome mediocrity.  You only get out what you put in.

Owner, Author, Designer, Consultant

Dylan “Mr. D” Roush is a graphic design professional with over 6 year experience. Based out of Pittsburgh,  Mr. D specializes in WordPress design, print design, typography and illustration.